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The student news site of California State University - Los Angeles

University Times

The student news site of California State University - Los Angeles

University Times

The University Club Will Return With Updates This Fall

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Adriana
Daniel Keenan and Liz Landeros in front of the University Club.

Cal State LA’s on-campus dine-in experience, The University Club, will open its doors this semester with new changes following its reopening in March. Adjacent to the food court, it’s run by a team of hardworking employees, students and even Cal State LA Alumni whose mission is to make the restaurant a place for all to enjoy. 

University Club Executive Chef Daniel Keenan shared a clear vision for the establishment, supported by student workers who gain many skills working at the club.

 “We are definitely hoping that this fall the club will go back to its business as usual, which was a very full room every day,” Keenan said.

The space can also be rented for many purposes and is frequently utilized by Cal State LA staff for meetings and conferences.  

“It’s open to the public… students, professors, everyone is welcome. It’s not a club,” Keenan said.

A variety of dishes including charbroiled burgers (an employee favorite), sandwiches, pasta and more are available at the restaurant. The chef also shared the importance of creating new dishes.

“We’ll probably have specials of the day that we’ll try to make affordable so it gives the chefs something that they can get creative with, while also offering something different to the people on campus,” Keenan said.

For a year, the restaurant adapted to the pandemic and reopened as the University Club To-Go in spring of 2022, providing counter-service meals to students. Patrons of the establishment can now expect changes throughout the semester as it returns to its pre-pandemic conditions while looking towards the future. 

TVFM graduate student Sam Avalos had the opportunity to work at the adapted University Club To-Go as well as the restaurant. 

“I wanted to make the best of it, make it a good experience for everyone and myself, and to just grow and learn with time,” Avalos said about the switch.

This semester, the establishment will begin to run more smoothly as employees begin to settle into their positions. Chefs hope to add more specials to the menu, offering budget-friendly options to customers while also getting a chance to work on their own culinary creativity. 

The University Club has also reinstated its liquor license and now the club will offer beer and wine, according to Keenan. 

 

“[The restaurant] was closed for three years, any time a restaurant is closed for that long it’s hard to start fresh,” Keenan said. “The biggest challenge for us was getting customers back, letting people know we were actually open, rehiring and training staff.”

Keenan spoke on the benefits of being an on-campus restaurant trying to open after the pandemic. With many students and faculty eager to return to the Club, the establishment slowly began gaining customers. The community of the university aided the reopening process, a luxury that many restaurants nationwide didn’t have. 

Now working his eighteenth year as executive chef food service director, Keenan has a lifetime of work in the restaurant industry to prepare him for challenges.

He began working at restaurants in high school to then immediately move to France to begin his career, later working in New York, Alaska, and now Los Angeles.  

“I’ve known as a child that I wanted to be a chef, like 8 years old I was working in the kitchen… I knew early on,” he said.

Along with Keenan, the restaurant is led by Adora Delgado and Liz Landeros, both Cal State LA Alumni. 

Avalos said she chose to work at the University Club to “try a new environment.” Having had restaurant experience in the past, she “figured this would be something good.”

Avalos’ favorite part about working at the University Club is the ability to connect to her customers. 

“That’s what I really enjoyed about working at the University Club, just being able to be in a ‘small town’ environment where you get the time to get to know people,” Avalos said. 

Urban Learning major Diana Bonilla is a server and host, and she appreciated the learning process of the job. 

“It’s been fun for me learning new tactics and skills on how a restaurant works,” Bonilla said.

Bonilla has enjoyed learning as she goes about the restaurant business. It has taught her how to be flexible, and how to be there for her fellow employees. 

The University Club is currently open from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Keenan recommends that eager patrons make reservations. Customers are able to call, email or come into the restaurant in person to make a reservation. 

“The multifunctioning space can be rented out for parties or other events by reserving a spot with the catering sales staff.”  

Bonilla sees how the evolution of the University Club has affected the campus community. 

“I get really friendly customers, they’re all very happy that the restaurant is back, and that makes my day even better,” she said.

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About the Contributor
Adriana Davila, Senior Multimedia Reporter
Adriana Davila is a Multimedia Reporter for the University Times and a third year journalism major. Her favorite stories to write are on student affairs. Adriana is also a theatre minor, and you can always find her performing in a show on campus. In her free time, Adriana is probably singing, writing music, or watching her favorite tv show.
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